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Publisher's Summary

Ann Rule was working on the biggest story of her career, tracking the trail of victims left by a brutal serial killer. Little did this future best-selling author know that the savage slayer she was hunting was the young man she counted among her closest friends.

Everyone's picture of a natural winner, Ted Bundy was a bright, charming, and handsome man with a promising future as an attorney. But on January 24, 1989 Bundy was executed for the murders of three young women - and had confessed to taking the lives of at least thirty-five more women from coast to coast. Ann Rule, who kept in constant contact with Bundy throughout the investigation, tells his story as no other person can, capturing the essence of his magnetic power, unholy compulsion, and demonic double life.

Available for the first time on audio, this shocking true story is an unforgettable listening experience. In an emotional reading, Rule tells us about Ted Bundy - the man she thought she really knew...the stranger beside her.

©2008 Ann Rule (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What the critics say

"As dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at midnight." ( The New York Times)

Featured Article: 20 Best True Crime Audiobooks for Your Inner Detective

There is nothing more thrilling than the unfolding tale of a true crime story. Whether an unsolved mystery, a deep dive into a criminal mastermind, or a look at an infamous serial killer, true crime is gripping, captivating, and engrossing. The best true crime audiobooks will have you on the edge of your seat, anxious for more. Add to that an emphatic and powerful narrator, and you simply won't be able to stop listening. Here are the 20 best true crime audiobooks to satisfy your inner detective.

What listeners say about The Stranger Beside Me

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

There is an Audio problem in Chapter 54

In chapter 54 at the 17:37 time mark there is an odd audio skip. I've listened to the spot 4 times now thinking it was my device or me tapping something by mistake. But it is definitely the recording. Needs to be fixed

5 people found this helpful

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A good listen

This book was better than I expected. It was thorough and unbiased. The narrator was awesome! I couldn't stop listening.

1 person found this helpful

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LOVED IT!

WOW. I absolutely loved this one. When I am reading true crime, I want all the details. I am not interested in one sided details just to prove a point. This novel really gave you everything. I found myself very invested in this one and couldn't put it down.

1 person found this helpful

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Terrifying but riveting read

I wasn't sold on this despite the critical acclaim. A lot of time has passed and I worried this was another case of someone fawning over Ted. But Rule writes this in a manner we can all relate to. We have all made the mistake of befriending the wrong person, someone who is toxic. But luckily for (most) of us that person didn't turn out to be a serial killer. Rule does a great job of showing how difficult it was for her to navigate her friendship while her suspicions grew. It's well researched with a lot of input from victims and doesn't make everything all about Ted. it's very human. I am so glad she did an update, but I was sad to read about the circumstances surrounding her death.

Def worth a listen

1 person found this helpful

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Well-researched, insightful

Ask anyone for a recommendation on a book about Ted Bundy, and this is the novel you'll be pointed to. It was fantastically researched and clear on the facts, without being boring. However, the mix of quotations and (obvious) use of direct source material demonstrates Rule's past as an author focused primarily on articles for magazines. But, I believe with a true crime novel such as this, that becomes necessary, and actually adds to the story, giving you the full picture. The writing wasn't fantastic, but it conveyed the story and facts wells. This edition included several updates from the original 1980 publication, that were vital to understanding the entire picture of Ted Bundy's trial, confessions and execution. I am very grateful for the addition.

However, I should note, I was a little exasperated with Ann Rule. While it is extremely interesting that she personally knew Ted Bundy before he was ever a murder suspect, and signed a book deal to write about the serial murderer who would end up being Ted, I believe she inflated both her self-importance, and Ted's.

My last listen before this was very well-narrated, and the shock of switching to this audiobook was disheartening. The narrator sounds robotic and choppy- very similar to the voice on your GPS. Luckily, the story pulled me in, and I was able to adjust to this style so I did not miss out on The Stranger Beside Me. However, several minutes in, I was ready to turn this off and not look back, often laughing at how detached the narration was. If you told me the entire this was typed into a "text-to-speech" app, I would absolutely have believed you. However, the narration was clear and crisp, and you do get used to it.

Critiquing each part individually, the narration was poor and the writing was not the best, by any means; but reflecting back, I very much enjoyed this listen and was impressed as a whole.

I think the part of this novel that most solidified how impressed I was by it, was when I found I had giggled to myself at one of the direct quotations from a letter from Ted. For the novel to express him as the whole man, including all of his horrendous deeds and the lives he has ended and ruined, and still for me to momentarily understand his allure and instantly be chilled by it was the perfect effect that summed up The Stranger Beside Me.

As a side note: I'm sure at this point, almost the entire world has watched the Ted Bundy documentary on Netflix. I went back after listening to The Stranger Beside Me, and found that it barely scratched the surface of what was included in this novel, and was considerably less intriguing (although it was interesting to see the visuals that went along with Rule's descriptions).

1 person found this helpful

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loved it!!!

Couldn't stop listening. Great story and very chilling! He had so many people fooled. Love Anne Rule.

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A harrowing tale

I bought this book because I was fascinated that a bright crime writer could be friends with a serial killer and not have a clue; it satisfied this curiosity and more. It also occurred to me, as I listened, that I was a teenaged girl hitchhiking just over the border from Washington state at the very time girls were disappearing. Left me a lot to think about.

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If you're looking for a great True Crime novel..

You've found it. Ann Rule knew and liked Ted Bundy. This book documents his almost inexplicable inconsistencies and horrific crimes. Rule does a marvellous job describing what kind of person he was. The writing is crisp and well-reasoned. Interviews with victims' families, the few survivors, and investigators are interspersed with excerpts from letters the killer sent to his friend. The pace isn't overly frenetic and the exposé is complete. By the end of the book, the listener joins the author in scratching their head over this mysterious monster. The final two chapters (added in subsequent prints) reveal much more and reflect Rule's maturity and experience. Theodore Robert Bundy was a most unusual psychopath. I have no issues with the writing in this book except to say that Rule may be a bit too thorough - she includes too many details and leaves absolutely nothing out (like the appearance of the gemstones in a victim's (never recovered) jewelry, for example). At one point Rule bizarrely speculates that the victims were somehow made more vulnerable to being abducted and murdered because of personal 'problems'.."this one was fighting a cold" or "that one's dad had been ill" or " that one's exams were stressful". These were almost certainly totally irrelevant in my opinion - one wonders why Rule even raises them. Fortunately, the flaws are so minor and infrequent that they are easily overlooked. This is a great book. Lorelei King is an excellent narrator. Her tone is perfect for the topic and she reads with appropriate emotion at the correct pace to tell the story as written. This is a Five Star book.

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Hated the narrator

Did not like the narrators voice and as a result I couldn’t enjoy the story

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Ted Bundy Srill Scary after Death

Read this when Ann Rule first wrote it and re-read it every year or so. All her books are great, also Small Sacrifices. I think she was the best true crime author Ever!! I am re-listening to Small Sacrifices now and I love her voice. She passed away a while ago, but I think her daughter has picked up the pen so there's hope for all her fans. GM

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  • Malia
  • 2012-08-24

Another Good One from Ann Rule

This is my 3rd Ann Rule book, 1st being Dead By Sunset, and 2nd: Green River, Running Red. I say this one was "good". It's clear, like other reviewers have said, that this was her first book, but the relationship between her and Ted make for a more interesting story than had she not known the main character of what was to be her first book. I didn't find her vacillating feelings for Ted annoying, like some other reviewers did, nor did I think she exaggerated the extent of her relationship with Ted. I think it was all pretty appropriate.
There is definitely something lacking with this story, which I can't put my finger on, but I'd recommend it to an Ann Rule fan or someone looking to learn more about Ted Bundy and his crimes.

52 people found this helpful

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  • Theresa
  • 2013-07-06

Troubling account of a psychopath

Any additional comments?

I bought this book because it was mentioned several times in the book "Without a Conscience" by Robert D. Hare. While I found the story of Ted Bundy interesting, the effect he had on Ann Rule was as chilling as his murders.
Hour after hour I listened to the book waiting for the realization that Ann would finally come to about what a monster Ted Bundy was, but it never came.
Ann Rule, calmly and with almost the same callousness that Ted Bundy displayed in his life, reports on his murders and yet, she Ann, still talks about him as if her were a favored lover.
I can certainly understand protecting and supporting your friend until it is proven he is a monster, but at some point common decency should make you cringe in horror with the rest of the population at these atrocities.
This book makes the point of Dr Hare's book even more evident. When you deal with a psychopathic personality you can be taken in to the point of no return. The Stranger Beside Me" is the embodiment of that.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Big jim Picotto
  • 2015-04-16

Brutal story, great storytelling

I had no idea that Ann Rule knew Ted Bundy. I found that she came awfully close to injecting herself a little too much into the story. But she backed away enough to tell a very entertaining but frightening tale of this monster. It is a shame she didn't get a chance to interview him prior to his execution, but a good tale nonetheless. Worth the credit.

44 people found this helpful

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  • BVerité
  • 2013-10-22

Wow!! A really amazing book!

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. That's putting it mildly. I was entranced by it! I like true crime books, but I stay away from subjects that are too gruesome and scary, like the murders of Ted Bundy.
I worried this book would give me nightmares. However, Ann Rule does not fill her book with gory details. Instead Ann tells the shocking and fascinating story of life in the years of his murders and trials, and of her relationship and correspondence with him. The book is updated to reflect all the changes in his legal situation.

There is a lot of heart in this book. Ann Rule writes it with such compassion and true emotion. It's incredibly well written!! I can't say that enough. Instead of coming away with nightmares, I was able to view the horror and tragedy of Ted Bundy from an unusual and fascinating perspective. Rule stays away from the sensationalism that you might expect from a "serial killer" expose. She has written an unbelievably compelling story. It was really interesting to read (hear) her shifting of thoughts and emotions regarding Bundy and his crimes, as she battled with the realization that he may have used her just like he used the other women in his life. Oh it is just a really good book.

I highly recommend this. It is a book that will stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. And I will continue to read Ann Rule. This isn't my first if her books, but I think this is her best that I've read so far!!

Great Narration.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Peggy
  • 2013-12-02

Creepy

The author tricked me into believing that Ted Bundy was a handsome, clever, ordinary guy--just as he tricked her. If we believe Ann Rule, it was long after capture and late in the judicial process that she saw the truth about the guy she had once worked with. And that's what makes the whole thing really creepy.

31 people found this helpful

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  • S. Johnson
  • 2014-06-24

Interesting and Real

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

YES YES YES. If the topic interests you this is a first hand experience written by someone who know Ted Bundy. Well written and should I add written with the neutrality of a professional. great book

What other book might you compare The Stranger Beside Me to and why?

none

What does Lorelei King bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She was easy to listen to and presented the story perfectly with the right innuendos

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

definitely

Any additional comments?

get it you won't regret

21 people found this helpful

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  • Doc Pearce
  • 2013-07-26

Factual Account

Rule produced the best of the Ted Bundy books. She was the one of those who, initially, thought that there had been a ghastly mistake. It was fascinating to watch as she came to the realization that the trusted companion, from a crisis center, was a monster. Rule held her emotions in check, when It must have made her skin crawl to remember her experiences. This book was the making of her career. It is the First but not the Last word on the Bundy Case. It does whet the appetite to read more.

25 people found this helpful

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  • farmhouselady
  • 2012-12-04

The true-crime Master has done it again.

Any additional comments?

Ann Rule sets the standard for true-crime books. I have yet to discover another author that comes close. If it is by Ann Rule, you know you are getting the very best, and you will be sucked in and taken away into another universe.

She does meticulous research the reader benefits from, and she adds a depth to the telling of the facts that comes from very deep understanding of her topic. Over decades of focusing on true crime, she has perfected the art of telling these stories like no one ever has.

This work is unique in that Ann actually knew the serial killer personally, had worked with him and maintained ties of friendship with him even after his trouble with the law began. So she had more than a bird's eye view, more than police records and media articles. That aspect - her own emotional involvement - adds another layer of interest but does not get in the way of her strict discipline in relating the facts and unfolding the story, to her credit.

There's no way you can go wrong with this book. Treat yourself.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Jimmy Watson
  • 2019-02-26

Bundy was a psychopath killer, not a “great guy”

Ann Rule’s detail about the life of Ted Bundy is very interesting and insightful . A thrilling story. However, Ann Rule seems to be as narcissistic as Ted. Many times the story seems to be more about her then a horrible killer. Less Ann and this would have been a great book. Ted Bundy is one the most evil humans ever to walk the earth. Lets not forget that.

3 people found this helpful

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  • 9S
  • 2012-05-10

Good but with reservations

Unfortunately, Ann Rule stumbles with The Stranger Beside Me, by claiming to be an intimate friend of Ted Bundy. She transforms the short, erratic time she worked with the man into a close relationship. Yet, despite herculean efforts, nothing more than a casual acquaintanceship is described. Also, Rule frequently repeats that she was highly regarded by law enforcement agencies, thus attempting to validate her own self-importance. Furthermore, Rule is enamored with Bundy, often mentioning how sophisticated and gentlemanly he was. Eventually listeners will tire of the lavish praise heaped on one of histories most prolific killers.

However, interspersed with the leaps of fantasy are outstanding snippets of the gruesome horrors perpetrated by Ted Bundy. Of course, Rule does a superb job of describing his descent into murderous madness. To begin with, we see an intelligent, polite young man. But, gradually a portrait emerges of a monster. In addition, the notorious killer was suspected of abducting and killing eight year old Ann Marie Burr, in 1961. She is thought to have been Bundy's first victim, with the murder being perpetrated when he was only 14. Lorelei King delivers an effortless performance as she recounts Bundy's childhood, the murders he committed, his capture, imprisonment and trial. All things considered, it would be remiss to imply that this is less than an engaging account of the infamous serial killer.

46 people found this helpful